A Better Mantrap by Bob Shaw

By Bob Shaw

A super choice of unique stories.

A predatory alien by accident teleported to Earth.

A mad scientist and his imprisoned ghost.

A area tourist returns to stand an accusation of homicide.

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Additional info for A Better Mantrap

Example text

Interlinguistic communication is usually achieved with marvelous technologies, like Star Trek’s Universal Translator and the Hitchhiker’s Guide’s Babel fish. These gizmos of consecutive interpretation are not just narrative conveniences. They reflect the assumption that (verbalized) languages are all reducible to a basic stratum, a pure code capable of infinite varieties of incarnation with no loss of essential information, on the principle that all minds must share certain universal principles transcending biological and cultural difference.

In many sf plots (transspecies wars, alien contacts, interplanetary romances, first beauty ° Fictive Neology 33 animal-human exchanges, and galactic anthropology) communication is a central theme. Sometimes the desired partner lacks language altogether, forcing messages to be exchanged at the level of actions. In Lem’s Solaris, for example, the Solarists generate a library’s worth of scientific neologisms, each one taxonomically well formed, but capable only of signifying their distance from their incomprehensible referents.

20 Jekyll does not give a name to his compound or the process of transmutation by which the higher elements of his nature are suppressed. The drug never passes beyond the threshold of Jekyll’s person. It is not revealed, exchanged, or distributed. The narrative doesn’t permit it to act independently of its protagonist. By refusing to give his novum a scientific name Stevenson kept his tale from engaging with the discourse of science. Most early writers of sf approached imaginary neologism with similar discretion.

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